There goes Europe

SUBHEAD:  Populations will be fleeing and shifting from many more unfavorable corners of the world. The pressures are mounting all over.

By James Kunstler on 7 September 2015 for Kunstler.com -
(http://kunstler.com/clusterfuck-nation/there-goes-europe/)


Image above: Cute bunnyu and kitty. From (http://bestfunnychannel.blogspot.com/2012/11/cute-and-funny-pictures-of-animals-42.html).

The desperate wish in what is loosely called the West to at least appear morally correct is unfortunately over-matched by the desperation of people fleeing unstable, overpopulated places outside the West, and it is a fiasco beyond even the events of the moment.

The refugee / immigrant crisis around the Mediterranean is a preview of a horror show to which there is no end in sight, and is certain to escalate. So anyone who indulges in fantasies about organizing an orderly, rational distribution of displaced persons for the current wave, is badly missing the point. 

Wave beyond wave awaits after the this one. And then what will the well-intentioned sentimentalists say?  
We wanted to do the right thing… we meant well… we cried when we saw the little boy dead on the beach….
Yes, the tragic intrusions of the US military in Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere have been reckless and stupid. But that is not the whole story. 

The desert nations of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have populations abnormally swollen by a century of oil-and-gas-based agriculture, really by the benefits of Modernity in general. 

Now that the oil age is chugging to an unruly crack-up, and Modernity with it, and the earth’s climate is doing wonky things, and the rich nations to the north have faked their finances to the point of bankruptcy, well, circumstances have changed.

In the years ahead, populations will be fleeing and shifting from many more unfavorable corners of the world. The pressures are mounting all over. 

Alas, the richer nations in which the fleeing poor aspire to gain a foothold, will also be contending with the disabling effects of a universal economic contraction — the winding down of the techno-industrial system and the global economy with it. 

That process has the potential to shatter political unions, overthrow established social orders, and provoke wars between the demoralized countries who still possess dangerous military hardware. At the least, it will produce economic conditions in Europe and North America probably worse than the Great Depression of the 1930s.

So, the idea that the nations currently bethinking themselves “rich” can take in, shelter, and employ the masses fleeing MENA (and elsewhere) is absurd. Somehow the people in charge, plus the intellectual classes who shape opinion and consensus, are going to have to arrive at some clear notion of limits and boundaries. 

It is actually happening in parts of Europe right now, extempore, where the immediate crisis is worst, for the moment in Italy, Greece, and Hungary — which first interned the refugees and then let them loose on the road to Vienna, probably only a way-station to Germany. 

Soon all nations across Europe will be agonizing, shucking, jiving, or improvising some sort of desperate response.

Among other confusions of policy and intention, the public “debate” so far does not make any distinction between true political refugees fleeing for their lives or economic migrants seeking to improve their prospects elsewhere. It is surely easy to empathize with both categories of persons, but that doesn’t mean you give up the control of your borders just to make yourself feel better. 

That is pretty much what has happened in the USA, where the Left, for political expediency, has deemed it indecent to call “illegal” immigrants what they are, and the Right has just been pusillanimous and hypocritical about it. 

Hence the unfiltered persona of Trump who, for all his titanic shortcomings, has at least managed to make his rivals look like the craven midgets they are.

Likewise, the rise of Marine LePen in France, Geert Wilders in Holland, and other parties seeking limits to immigration, perhaps even deportations. Personally, I reject the idea that it’s “racist” to want to preserve one’s national culture and character (especially in language), or to favor bona fide citizens for gainful employment. 

Europe has the additional obvious problem of an immigrant Islamic population overtly hostile to European culture and tradition. Why is it morally imperative for Europeans to countenance what amounts to low-grade warfare?

The situation that smoldered for decades is now exploding. Don’t expect to see any end to desperation and instability in MENA, but do expect new demographic crises out of other regions: Indonesia, Ukraine, Pakistan, West Africa, and Brazil, with its cratering economy. 

It’s not inconceivable that China might bust apart politically, with centrifugal consequences. The global economy is contracting. We have indeed attained the limits to growth. Cheap oil is bygone and the capital infrastructure we have won’t run on expensive oil — including the oil industry itself. 

New technology or further central bank legerdemain is not going to fix that. We’re in population overshoot and a scramble is underway to bail on the places that just can’t support the people who live there. 

National boundaries will be defended. Sentimentalists will have to step aside. History is not a bedtime story about bunnies and kittens.



On the other hand

SUBHEAD: Europe's xenophobes should think twice. A reminder that A Syrian migrant's son gave us the iPhone.

By Alexander Kaufman on  on 4 September 2015 for Huff Po  -
(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/syrian-migrants-son-steve-jobs_55e9d5cee4b002d5c075ec83)

A Hungary ruled by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orban doesn't deserve to produce the next iPhone.

The populist leader has spewed viciously xenophobic and anti-Muslim rhetoric as migrants -- many of whom escaped violence in Syria -- amass in Hungary, a way station on the route to Germany. This, even as the world reels from the photo of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi's drowned body, cradled in the arms of a Turkish police officer. The gut-wrenching image only served to illustrate the desperate odds refugees face while trying to escape war at home.

Still, Orban is not alone.

In Greece, masked gunmen attack boats of migrants, attempting to prevent them from reaching the shores of the European Union. Even in Germany, where the government has taken in a record 800,000 refugees, a surge in neo-Nazi attacks on migrants have rocked the country.

Images of people leaving a Hungarian railway station on Friday to travel to Austria on foot demonstrate rich nations' reluctance to provide safe havens to those lucky enough to set foot in a stable country.

But, lest we forget, one of the men who most dramatically impacted human civilization in the last decade was the son of a Syrian who migrated to the U.S. in 1954.

Perhaps you've heard of him. His name was Steve Jobs.
.

Marijuana improves exercise

SUBHEAD: Six reasons you should consider lighting up a joint before you work out.

By anthony Franciosi on 2 September 2015 for Alternet -
(http://www.alternet.org/6-reasons-you-should-light-joint-you-work-out)


Image above: Ex-California governor and ex-Mr. Universe, Arnold Schwarzenegger takes a break smoking mariuana while a professional athlete. From (http://azmarijuana.com/arizona-medical-marijuana-news/marijuana-exercising-chemically-linked/).

The words “marijuana” and “exercise” may not go together upon first glance, but they actually go hand in hand. The marriage of the two is something you may have not considered, but if you’re looking to get ripped--you really should. Listen up.

Did you know that weed is actually the best thing you can do for your workout routine?
ADVERTISING
Sure, we know pot has the power to relieve pain and stress, but did you know it can also improve focus, increase metabolism, and make you BETTER at your favorite sports?

Let’s look at the facts. Some of the most incredible athletes are actually pot smokers. Don’t believe me? Hmmmm.

I mean, this may sound crazy, but think about it. Remember Michael Phelps? He has 22 Olympic medals and, as we all know, he’s a big fan of the reefer.

Okay, so he got in trouble and whatever, but seriously: If Phelps can smoke weed and be that great at swimming, wouldn’t you think it might play some part in his athletic achievement?

If that’s not reason enough to introduce pot into your fitness regime, I’m really not sure what is. But, in case you do need a little more convincing, here are 6 concrete reasons why exercise is better on weed:

1. Weed raises your metabolism
Let’s start with the basics so we can get the ball rolling on an explanation as to why you should be ROLLING a fatty before hitting the gym.

Marijuana can help speed up your metabolism so you can actually get a fat-burning boost before hitting the elliptical.

According to a study recorded in Men’s Journal: “The compounds THCV and cannabidiol found in marijuana may help raise metabolism, speed fat loss, and lower cholesterol.”

So, if you’re looking for a little something extra pre-workout, smoke a little weed. This might seem counterintuitive but, nope, it really does help.

Pot smokers are just thinner. As Wellspring notes:
“American Journal of Medicine researchers have discovered that pot smokers actually have 16% higher levels of fasting insulin in their bodies than those who abstain from marijuana. In addition, the study indicated that cannabis users have 17% lower insulin resistance levels as well as significantly smaller average waist circumferences than their non-smoking counterparts.”
Controlled insulin levels are key to energy and weight-loss. Pot is good for insulin levels which means pot is good for your body.

2. Weed reduces anxiety and gets you revved up to workout
Strangely enough, weed is actually the key ingredient in pumping you up for a workout. After smoking, we feel more heightened and ready to take on the gym by storm.

As Stanford Medical School professor Keith Humphreys told Outside Magazine, “We have cannabinoid receptors throughout our brains, and when the THC hits those receptors, it triggers a system that reduces anxiety. That you would feel more aggressive is a natural reaction to the drug.”
So, while you might think that weed would chill you out and force you to complacently melt into the couch, forging the gym completely, it actually can help you get ready for your routine.

It reduces anxiety and pumps you up! Who knew?!

3. Weed can make you better at sports.
Marijuana can literally make you better at the games you love to play. While participating in activities DRUNK might impair your judgment and compromise your performance, smoking weed will actually IMPROVE your skills.

In an interview with Men’s Journal, well-known triathlete Clifford Drusinsky, a Colorado gym owner who actually holds sessions where everyone gets high, said:
"Marijuana relaxes me and allows me to go into a controlled, meditational place. When I get high, I train smarter and focus on form."
Since you’re relaxed after smoking, you’re automatically more aware of the tasks at hand, which of course is crucial to sports aptitude.

According to Business Insider, Outside Magazine correspondent Gordy Megroz said weed actually made him better at skiing. He said that once he got high, he felt really pumped up and was ready to take on all of the slopes.

So, there you have it, smoking weed improves sports and science says so. Take that, mom and dad!

4. Weed helps your muscles recover
You know what seriously blows about a super hardcore workout? Being super sore the next couple of days after. Luckily, the answer is even simpler than eating a ton of protein and having a trusty spotter: get high AF.

According to Megroz, smoking weed actually helped his muscles recover more quickly than going at it alone. He reported that when he did squats while high, he wouldn’t get as sore.

Smoking weed means the end of the muscle pain after workouts. Wouldn’t that make you just want to workout more? Hell yeah.

5. Weed does the same thing as exercise
STONERS, REJOICE! Here’s another zinger. Weed actually has a similar effect on your body that the gym has. LOL forever, amiright?!

According to Wellspring, marijuana can activate the same areas of the body that exercise can:
“As a group of lipids, fats, and cell receptors that THC bind to when smoking weed, the endocannabinoid system plays a prominent role in the neurological system for maintaining homeostasis for overall human health. In short, the endocannabinoid system is responsible for easing our pain, controlling our appetite, relieving our stress, influencing our mood, and even regulating our memory.”
So, think about combining the exercise AND pot! It’s like a recipe for happiness, wellness, and delight.

6. Weed keeps you in the zone
On top all the aforementioned, magical things weed can do to help improve your fitness strategy, it can also help you stay ultra-focused during your routine.

As Wellspring points out:
“Many long-distance runners admit to using vaporizers or edibles before participating in a marathon, because the cannabis enables them to remove the monotony and stay in a steady rhythmic zone for keeping at a competitive running speed.”
So if you’re looking to stay in the zone and improve your longevity like so many top performers (cough, Michael Phelps, cough) just light up!

• Anthony Franciosi is the Founder of HonestMarijuana.com, an organic marijuana growery based on Colorado.

.

Secret Navy land deal in Ewa

SUBHEAD: Navy refuses native Hawaiian practitioner rights in secret Ewa, Oahu, land transfer. Complaint filed with state and federal agencies.

By Michael Lee on 6 September 2015 in Kanahili Blogspot -
(http://kanehili.blogspot.com/2015/09/navy-refuses-native-hawaiian-rights.html)

http://www.islandbreath.org/2015Year/09/150906mapbig.jpg
Image above: Area of the Ewa karst west of Pearl Harbor. Note multiple military and industrial installations already impacting this sensitive unique environment. Click to embiggen. From original article..

With regards to the secretive Navy land transfer of many parcels of lands which exist on the plain of Kaupe’a and Kanehili, Honouliuli ahupua’a moku of Ewa, identified previously as the former Navy Barbers Point Air Base and today is called Kalaeloa.

As a recognized Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner in Honouliuli, Ewa, by the Board of Land and Natural Resources, the 1st Circuit Court, Intermediate Court of Appeals, as a HART Programmatic Agreement Consulting Party, as a Navy KREP PV Farm Consulting Party, as well as a recognized cultural descendant on April 14, 2010 by the O’ahu Island Burial Council to ancestral native Hawaiian remains within and surrounding the Navy lands of Barbers Point, Iroquois Point and West Loch, I provide the following statement:

I must rely upon vigilant protection of my religious, traditional and customary Native Hawaiian practices, cultural and natural resources or I and the Hawaiian people will lose them forever.

As the kahu, or keeper, of the iwi kupuna in this area, as recognized by the Oahu Island Burial Council and State of Hawaii Historic Preservation Division, it is my responsibility to ensure the protection and safety of all the ancestral bones and funerary objects within in this area of my responsibility. I can and have filed lawsuits and won when my cultural rights have been damaged and violated.

I have to ask: Why was I not consulted in this land transfer which directly concerns my cultural practice and the tens of thousands of iwi kapuna in the Leina a ka uhane that I have responsibility to protect?

I am also an Hawaiian astronomer or star priest called Papakilohoku recognized by the Honolulu City Council with an Honorary Certificate and also very recently consulted by astronomy organizations on the Big Island regarding native Hawaiian astronomy.

All this background gives me standing concerning the Federally recognized Hawaiian Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) in Honouliuli called the Leina a ka Uhane, a very sacred spiritual leaping place for souls of the deceased returning to their ancient homeland.

This major wahi pana (sacred place) was Federally recognized by the HART Rail Project in a 2012 published series of documents as a Section 106 requirement to identify Ewa Plain Honouliuli TCP’s.

The Leina a ka Uhane TCP is clearly within the same ancient area known as the Plain of Kanehili and Plain of Kaupe’a, connected by the important ancient Hawaiian trail system within Honouliuli-Ewa identified by the 1825 Malden Trails map. All of this was also well identified in numerous Navy base closure documents and maps produced in 1979 through 2001.

Leina a ka Uhane in Kanehili is a sacred burial area for iwi kupuna in the tens of thousands. There is no excuse for the Navy land transfer to completely ignore all of this Federally produced Leina a ka Uhane TCP documentation and not consult with the most qualified and widely recognized resident Kahu in Honouliuli, Ewa.

The Navy lands being transferred are only minutes away from where I live and I have walked through it many times. The presence of burial sites, ancient habitation sites and the spirits of my ancestors is very real there and these spirits of the iwi kupuna call to me for their protection to prevent their desecration.

Burials in the Plains of Kanehili and Kaupe’a areas using the native Hawaiian Trails drawn by Malden in 1825 and subsequently documented by archeologists for the Navy in detailed archeological reports as on the Barbers Point Navy Base and Ewa Marine Air Base cannot be denied. These are facts but the Navy is intentionally ignoring them in the land transfer.


Image above: Wetlands on the Ewa Karst are delicate and of sacred importance to Hawaiian culture. From original article.

The ancient Hawaiian trails running from Honouliuli to Ewa, Palehua, Kualaka’i and One’ula are very key components for understanding the cultural history of the Honouliuli ahupua’a. Portions of these trails still exist through the Plains of Kaupe’a and Kanehili, in the foothills by Makakilo which was a major Papakilohoku star priest observation place, and in the documented archeological trails and iwi kupuna Karst burial areas which exist in the Barbers Point Navy lands being transferred.

This Navy land transfer is an attempt to evade native Hawaiian cultural rights as specified in numerous State and federal laws protecting native Hawaiian culture.

The US Navy is intentionally allowing, by their secrecy and lack of consultation with the most qualified local native Hawaiian residents, this most significant sacred cultural landscape in the Hawaiian Islands. This lack of cultural respect has and will cause great emotional and spiritual harm to not only myself, but to thousands of the cultural descendants of the iwi kupuna buried in there. This harm extends to the spiritual well-being of the entire Native Hawaiian lahui as well.

As a long time kahunalapa’auokekaiolimu, or Native Hawaiian practitioner of limu medicine, I have standing under Hawaii law protecting Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners and I am recognized in the Hawaii First Circuit Court in cases for the Honouliuli area and in Federal Court as the Hawaiian Cultural Practitioner of sea medicine on the Big Island in Kohala in the Kona Blue v. Kahea Kohala fishery's case in 2011.

The entire Plain of Kaupe’a and Kanehili are entirely ancient coral limestone reef with thousands of caves and sinkholes. This is a well documented fact by the Navy’s own base closure archeologists.

Fresh water flows through an extensive network of underground interconnected Karst caverns and channels from the mountains to the sea in the Plain of Kaupe’a and Kanehili which contains the nutrients that feed our eco-system food chain.

The Honolulu City Council passed unanimously in 2012 the Ewa Plain Trails resolution giving my cultural practice further standing in Honouliuli by advocating the protection of the 1825 Malden Trails (ancient Hawaiian trails) and Ewa Karst water system which is an ancient limestone reef wetlands water system.

I believe it is my duty as a native Hawaiian cultural practitioner to state that we cannot afford any more of these losses and developments must adhere to state and federal laws. This is also a Hawaii Public Trust Interest as stated in the Hawaii State Constitution. The State of Hawaii is mandated to protect this resource- caves, karst, underground streams and rivers under Statute 6D 1-10, Article 11, Section 7 State Constitution.


Image above: Author Michael Lee at shoreline of Ewa Karst holding native seaweed. From original article.

Native Hawaiian TCP’s do not follow any exact linear, circular or simple place box format like a TMK. They can cover a large area, vary in depth and width and are often linked together by trails, caves, ponds and canoe landings. The land and the people are one.

Access to and protection of native cultural sites and ecosystems is a cornerstone of recognized cultural practice in Hawai‘i. When a sacred place, native species or critical ecosystem is lost, a wahi pani or wahi kapu is erased from the landscape, the words and traditions associated with them are also lost.

Native Hawaiian rights: Article XII Section 7 of the Hawaii Constitution states, "The State reaffirms and shall protect all rights, customarily and traditionally exercised for subsistence cultural and religious purposes and possessed by ahupua'a tenants who are descendants of native Hawaiians prior to 1778."


CONTACT:
Michael Lee
91-1200 Keauniu Drive, Unit 614,
Ewa Beach, Hawaii 96706
kanehilivideos@gmail.com


.

Hawaiian Sea Level Fate

SUBHEAD: Sea level rise has been artificially low in Hawaii—but it’s going to catch up.

By Jan TenBrugencate on 2 September 2015 for Raising Islands -
(http://raisingislands.blogspot.com/2015/09/sea-level-rise-has-been-artificially.html)


Image above: Computer image of sea level rise in Pacific Ocean. Red is highest rise, whereas blue is even or even a lowering of ocean level. From original article.

Sea levels are rising globally at an increasing rate—three inches in the last 25 years or so--but we’re not seeing that much in Hawaii.

So what’s up?

One answer to this mystery is that our islands are in a kind of temporary sweet spot. Satellite imagery shows that while most of the globe has seen dramatic rises in sea levels—as much as 3 inches in the past 25 years—Hawaii has been flat to actually lower.

(Image: The red shows areas of dramatic sea level rise. Blue shows areas where it’s flat or down. Hawai`i appears in the blue zone. But how long will that last? Credit: NASA.)

At a human scale, this makes no sense. If you fill a bathtub, clearly it fills all around the tub.

But global scales are different. There are humps and valleys in the oceans across the scale of thousands of miles. Winds can push water up against a coast, creating a hump. Eddies can change sea levels regionally. Currents and storms and tides and even temperatures can all impact the height of the ocean.

“In a nutshell it's due to changes in winds and ocean circulation that counteract the global sea level signal regionally. That should shift as part of a long-term fluctuation but no projections on when that is likely to occur. This big El Nino may herald the start of a shift, but we have to see how that plays out,” said University of Hawaii oceanographer Mark Merrifield.

Here is NASA’s recent report on accelerating sea levels and related issues.

“Sea levels are rising rapidly—much more rapidly than they have any time in the last several thousand years,” said NASA’s Joshua Willis, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

And the rate of increase has been increasing as well, he said. It was about 1 millimeter annually in 1900, rose to 2 millimeters annually in the mid 1900s, and is now at 3 millimeters annually. That works out to more than an inch a decade.

I wrote to Willis to ask whether our islands can continue to dodge this bullet.

“In the long run sea level rise will affect Hawaii as well. Because it is in the central Pacific, the impacts of the long-term natural cycles may not be quite as large. Eventually, however, the global rates of rise will be felt in Hawaii also,” he said.

University of Hawaii coastal geologist Charles “Chip” Fletcher agreed.

“The global oceans cannot keep rising without us experiencing the rise as well - we just may be able to avoid the worst aspects of the variability. On the other hand, models show that the tropics as a region will experience the upper end of global sea level change, so that makes us part of a more dangerous region.

“I have held for several years that Hawaii should plan for one meter of sea level rise by end of century and as far as I can see that is still a valid number,” he said.

.

US strikes on dissent advocated

SUBHEAD: "Treasonous" scholars' homes and dissenting media outlet sites should be targeted by military.

By Cassius Methyl on 2 September 2015 for AntiMedia -
(http://theantimedia.org/west-point-professor-calls-for-military-strikes-on-journalists-critical-of-war-on-terror/)


Image above: US Army sharpshooter, and hitman, Chris Kyle, who was the subject of movie American Sniper, at a target range. From (http://www.inquisitr.com/1769010/how-the-american-sniper-became-biggest-january-opening-in-history/).

[IB Publisher's note: I read this story and figured it had to be a fake or possibly satire. Chasing down the cited publication of The National Security Law Journal (NSLJ), that is published by George Mason University School of Law, reveals this is article is bonafide. For original article see page 278 of this pdf file (https://www.nslj.org/wp-content/uploads/Vol3_Issue2_merged2.pdf)]

An assistant professor from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point recently declared that professionals critical of the “War on Terror” constitute a “treasonous” opposition that should be subject to military force.

He believes the U.S. should have the right to attack people who are critical of U.S. military operations — specifically, professionals, legal scholars, journalists, and other people effectively spreading ideas that oppose war.

Professor William C. Bradford went as far as to publish a long academic paper in the National Security Law Journal that aggressively promotes suppressing dissent about military force, civilian casualties, and expanding military operations in the Middle East.
Using the excuse that victims would be “lawful targets,” Bradford argues that “law school facilities, scholars’ home offices and media outlets where they give interviews” should be targeted with military force to suppress dissent. He asserted that the war on terror should be expanded, “even if it means great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties, and civilian collateral damage.”

He further suggested that the U.S. should wage “total war” on “Islamism,” using “conventional and nuclear force and [psychological operations]” to “leave them prepared to coexist with the West or be utterly eradicated.”

He said that “Threatening Islamic holy sites might create deterrence, discredit Islamism, and falsify the assumption that decadence renders Western restraint inevitable.”
Despite his self-description as an “associate professor of law, national security and strategy,” a representative of the National Defense University has tried to distance the school from Bradford by saying he wasn’t part of the staff, but rather a contracted professor.

Sporting a long history of exaggeration and pro-military extremism, “He resigned from Indiana University’s law school in 2005 after his military record showed he had exaggerated his service,” according to The Guardian.

Though the man seems to be held in high esteem by the military, he spoke with such disregard for human rights that the National Security Law Journal had to apologize. The NSLJ released a statement on the front page of its website, saying it:

“…made a mistake in publishing [the] highly controversial article…”

“The substance of Mr. Bradford’s article cannot fairly be considered apart from the egregious breach of professional decorum that it exhibits,” it admitted. “We cannot ‘unpublish’ it, of course, but we can and do acknowledge that the article was not presentable for publication when we published it, and that we therefore repudiate it with sincere apologies to our readers.”

Ironically, Bradford has a Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree from Harvard University with a focus in Human Rights Law.

This is a man who is apparently incorporating his violent philosophy into his teaching at West Point. He started on August 1st 2015 — after he published his article. This is only the tip of the iceberg in forming a complete understanding of the ideological fabric held by many of the war hawks in U.S. Military.

.

Retrotopia: View from a Moving Window

SUBHEAD: It must have left Sandusky headed east toward Niagara Falls, or possibly Erie or Buffalo.

By John Michael Greer on 2 September 2015 for the Archdruid Report -
(http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2015/09/retrotopia-view-from-moving-window.html)


Image above: Sailing Lake Erie on the schooner Niagara.  From (http://www.mv-woosah.com/?p=506).

[Author's note: This is the second installment of an exploration of some of the possible futures discussed on this blog, using the toolkit of narrative fiction. Readers who haven’t been following The Archdruid Report for long may find it useful to remember that not everything seen along the way has a simple explanation. See Part 1 here.]

From the window beside me, the Steubenville station looked like a scene out of an old Bogart vid. The platform closest to the train I was riding was full of people in outdated clothes. Most of them wore long raincoats that didn’t look a bit like bioplastic, and all of the men and most of the women had hats on. Up above was a roof of glass and ironwork that reminded me irresistibly of the Victorian era, and let daylight down onto everything.

The oddest thing about it all, though, is that I didn’t see security troops anywhere. On the other side of the border, anywhere you saw this many people together there’d be at least a squad in digital camo and flak jackets, pointing assault guns ostentatiously at the sidewalk.

I remembered the guards at the border, with their clipboards, holstered revolvers, and old-fashioned uniforms, and wondered how on earth the Lakeland Republic got away with that kind of carelessness.

The train finally rolled to a stop, and doors opened. The conductor had warned us that plenty of people would be coming aboard, and he wasn’t kidding: it took better than five minutes for everyone to file onto the car where I was sitting, and by the time they’d finished coming aboard, nearly every seat was taken.

The aisle seat next to me wasn’t one of the empty ones; a family with three children settled in right behind me, one child next to the mother, the second next to the father, and then Mom came up to me and asked if I minded having the oldest child sit next to me.

I gestured and said, “Sure,” and a boy of maybe ten plopped into the seat. “Now you mind your manners,” the woman told him, and he rolled his eyes, sighed loudly, and said, “Yeah, Mom.”

That wasn’t too promising, but he had a book with him, and as soon as he was settled in his seat, he opened it and didn’t make another sound. I was curious enough to give the book a sidelong glance; it was called "Treasure Island", and it was by somebody I’d never heard of named Robert Louis Stevenson; I made a mental note to look up the name and see if he was somebody new I should check out. He wasn’t the only kid in the car who was doing something quiet, either.

Up three rows there was a girl in a blue checked dress and a bonnet who was reading something, too, and behind me, the two kids in the immigrant family were watching everything and not saying a word, though they didn’t look quite as scared as when they boarded.

A couple of solid jolts shook the car. A moment later, I heard the voice of the conductor outside calling out, “Last call for Train Twenty to Toledo via Canton and Sandusky. All aboard!” Doors clattered, the locomotive up ahead sounded its whistle, and with another jolt the train started on its way again.

The station slid away, and I got a street-level view of half a dozen blocks of downtown Steubenville. The sense of having landed on the set of an old Bogart vid was just as strong.

To judge by the couple of clocks the train passed—my veepad was still giving me a dark field and the words no signal—it was right around time for the morning commute, but there wasn’t a car to be seen anywhere; the sidewalks bustled with people, and a couple of streetcars rolled past with bells clanging and standing room only on board.

The train picked up speed and left the downtown behind, but further out was more of the same: streets full of comfortable-looking houses and apartment buildings, with people walking to work or waiting at streetcar stops.

Further on the houses spread out, and big gardens sprouted all over the place, with the last fall crops visible in patches separated by stubble and brown earth. A little further, and Steubenville blended smoothly into the same sort of farm country I’d seen since shortly after the train crossed into the Lakeland Republic.

The farmhouses and barns looked well-tended, windmills spun and solar water heater panels on the roofs soaked up what sunlight came through the broken clouds, and the roads I saw were unpaved but had fresh gravel on them.

A little further, and the train passed a work gang out in one of the fields. That wasn’t surprising—back on the other side of the border, you saw prison work gangs doing labor on corporate farms all the time—but these didn’t have the slouch and the least-possible-effort sort of movement you see in convicts.

They were working their way across a field, digging up turnips as energetically as if they wanted to be there, and others came behind them just as methodically and carried the turnips away in bushel baskets. It was when I noticed where they were taking the turnips that my mouth dropped open.

Just past the field was a wagon with two draft horses hitched up to it. I wondered for a moment if this was an Amish farm—we’ve got Amish in our country, quite a few of them in what used to be the state of Pennsylvania before Partition, and they’re among the few people who’ve really done well in the postwar era—but the wagon had been painted in colors that, though they’d faded, had obviously once been bright.

The people in the work gang weren’t dressed in any sort of Amish kit I’d ever seen, either. I shook my head as the work gang and the wagon slipped out of sight behind the train, wondering what kind of weird place I was visiting. This was the twenty-first century, after all, not the nineteenth!

And yet it was like that all the way to Canton—or, to be more precise, it was some variation on the same theme of outdated technology and inefficient land use. All the farms were absurdly small, one to two hundred acres divided up into the sort of mixed farming that modern agriculture discarded most of a century ago, and I didn’t see any trace of modern agricultural machinery: no harvesting drones, no nitrogen injection systems, no quadruple-wide megacombines, nothing.

What I did see left me baffled, not least because there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. In one place I’d see trucks driving down paved roads and tractors in the fields, and twenty or thirty miles later it would be draft horses and wagons doing the same jobs.

The train passed through I don’t know how many little towns, and those were the same way: in one I’d see paved streets and a few cars and trucks, in the next the streets were paved with brick and streetcars shared space with horsedrawn carriages, and then there were a few that had brick streets and no streetcars at all.

The thing that puzzled me most, though, was that all of the towns, like nearly all the farms, seemed to be thriving. Every scrap of theory I’d learned in business school argued that small towns, like small farms, were hopelessly inefficient and couldn’t possibly support themselves in a modern economy.

I’d guessed earlier in the trip that there must be subsidies involved, but this far into Lakeland Republic territory, that explanation wouldn’t wash. I reached for my veepad reflexively to make a note, remembered as I got it out of my pocket that it wouldn’t get a signal, and put it away, feeling a rush of annoyance at the metanet’s absence.

We got to Canton a little ahead of schedule, or so the conductor announced cheerfully, and stopped in the switching yard east of town to lose some freight cars, gain others, and add three more passenger cars and a dining car to the back end of the train. That went quickly, though it involved a lot of jolts and thumps, and before long we were rolling ahead into the city.

Canton was a fairly big town; according to what I’d read while researching this trip, it had plenty of factories until the offshoring fad of the late twentieth century scrapped the United States’ manufacturing capacity and left the nation at the mercy of rival powers. I’d seen the gutted hulks of old factories outside Pittsburgh and a dozen other cities on our side of the border, and assumed that I’d see the same thing here.

I didn’t. What I saw instead, as the train rolled through the outlying districts of Canton, were what looked very much like warehouses and factories open for business. There weren’t many smokestacks to be seen, but the buildings had recent coats of paint on them, boxcars were being pushed down sidings by switching engines, and a mix of trucks and big horsedrawn wagons were lumbering past on the streets.

Further in, the train passed the same mix of of office buildings, apartment blocks, and stores I’d seen in Steubenville, and then we slowed and stopped at the Canton station.

That had me remembering Bogart vids again. From my window I could see at least eight platforms to one side of the train I was riding, and through the windows on the other side of the car I was pretty sure I could make out two more. Signs on the platforms noted destinations all over the Lakeland Republic—Morgantown, Bowling Green, Cairo, Madison, Sault Ste. Marie—and the place fairly bustled with passengers heading for this or that train.

Some of the passengers from the car I was sitting in got their luggage and headed out into the crowds, and some others came on board, stowed their luggage, and sat down; and the weirdest thing of all was that everyone seemed perfectly comfortable doing without security troops to protect them or modern technology to take care of their needs.

The train finally got under way again, and I got more views of Canton as the track headed northwest through town. About the time the houses started to spread out and the gardens got bigger, the conductor came through the door behind me and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, breakfast service is now open in the dining car, and since so many of the people in this car have been with us since Pittsburgh, you’re first. If you’d like to head back four cars, the dining car staff will be happy to serve you.”

Just about everyone in the car got up and filed back through the door. I didn’t. I’m one of those people who doesn’t do breakfast; if I eat anything before lunch I end up with stomach trouble.

The kid next to me went with his family, and the mother of the immigrant family took her two kids back to the dining car right after them. The father of the immigrant family, though, didn’t join them. After a few minutes he and I were practically alone in the car.

I half turned in my seat, gave him what I hoped would come across as a friendly smile. “Not into breakfast?”

“Too keyed up,” he said, smiling in response. “If I ate now I’d get sick to my stomach.”

I nodded. “I couldn’t help hearing the border guard say that you’re immigrating. That sounds pretty drastic. If you don’t mind my asking, what made you do that?”

His smile vanished, replaced by a wary look. “The wife has family in Ann Arbor,” he said. “They’re sponsoring us, and I got a job offer when we visited this summer. It seems like a good move.”

“Even though you have to give up modern technology?”

The wary look gave way to something that looked uncomfortably like contempt. “Technology? Like what?”

“Well, veepads and the metanet, to start with.”

By this point it was definitely contempt. “Big loss. I can’t afford any of that keech anyway.”

“Why not? You’ve got as much chance as anyone. Work hard, and—”

His expression said “whatever” more clearly than words, and he turned toward the window and away from me.

“No,” I said. “Seriously. I want to understand.”

He turned back to face me.

“Yeah? Did you hear my wife start crying there at the border, once they checked our papers?” I nodded, and he went on. “You know why she started crying? Because she’s been working three different jobs, sixty hours a week plus, to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table—and before you start thinking something stupid, mister, I’ve been working more hours than her since before we got married.

This is the first time she’s had anything to look forward to but that kind of schedule or worse for the rest of her life, until one of us gets too sick to work and we get chucked onto the street or into the burbs.”

“And you think you’ll be that much better off here?”

He gave me a baffled look, and then laughed a short hard laugh. “You haven’t been here before.”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Then open your eyes and take a good plutting look around.” He turned back to the window, and I knew better than to try to continue the conversation.

The landscape rolled by. We were in farm country again, the same patchwork landscape of little farms and little towns, with the same weird incongruities between one place and another. I was paying more attention this time, so I noticed some of the other differences: paved roads, gravel roads, and dirt roads; in some places, streetcars and local rail service, and none of these things in others; towns that had streetlights and others that didn’t.

At one point west of Canton, as the train rattled across a bridge, I looked down and honest to God, there were canal boats going both ways on a canal, each one with a mule pulling the towrope as though it was two hundred years ago and the Erie Canal was still in working order.

With my veepad useless, I didn’t have anything to do but watch the landscape roll by. The people who’d gone to breakfast trickled back a few at a time, and the conversation I’d just had with the immigrant replayed over and over again in my mind.

Of course I knew perfectly well that things were pretty hard for the poor back home, and the statistics that got churned out quarter after quarter showing steady economic improvement were strictly public relations maneuvers—there been a modest upturn after the Treaty of Richmond was signed and the last closed borders between the North American republics opened up, but the consequences of the Second Civil War and the debt crisis that followed it still weighed down hard on everybody.

It’s one thing to have some more or less abstract idea that times are tough, though, and something else to hear it in the voice of someone who’d been on the losing end of the economy all his life. I started to reach for my veepad to look up honest stats on the job market back home—those weren’t easy to find if you didn’t have connections, but that wasn’t a problem for me—and caught the motion just before my hand reached my pocket. What did people do in the Lakeland Republic, I wondered irritably, when they wanted to make a note of something or look up a fact?

I stared out the window, and after a while—the train was most of the way to Sandusky by then—noticed something that made the crazy quilt pattern of old technologies on the landscape a little clearer and a lot more puzzling. The train had slowed a little, and crossed a road at an angle.

The road was paved on one side and dirt on the other; I could see tractors in the middle distance off to the left, where the paved road started, and draft horses closer by on the right. Just where the pavement began was a sign that read Welcome to Huron County.

That got me thinking back over the landscape the train had crossed since the border, and yes, the breaks between one set of technology and another worked out to something like county-line distances.

That made me shake my head. Had the Lakeland Republic somehow divvied up the available technology by county, so that some counties got the equivalent of twentieth century infrastructure and others got stuck with the nineteenth-century equivalent? That sounded like political suicide, unless the Republic was a lot more autocratic than the briefing papers I’d read made it sound.

Then, of course, there was the fact that the farmhouses and farm towns in the nineteenth-century counties looked just as prosperous, all things considered, as their equivalents in the twentieth-century counties, and that made no sense at all. The farmers with more technology should have outproduced the others, undercut them in price, and driven them out of business in no time.

Huron County slid past the window. Farmland dotted with little towns gave way to a mid-sized town, which I guessed was the county seat, and then to farmland and little towns again. After a while, the conductor stepped through the door behind me and called out, “Next stop, Sandusky.”

A few minutes later, the train swung around a wide curve to the left, and ran just back of the shores of Lake Erie. Off in the distance, at a steep angle ahead, Sandusky’s buildings could be seen rising up above the flat line of the landscape, but that wasn’t what caught my gaze and held it.

Out maybe a quarter mile from shore was a big schooner with three masts, white sails bellying out ahead of the wind. It wasn’t anybody’s luxury yacht, that was for sure; from stem to stern, it looked every inch a working boat.

From the direction it was headed, I guessed it must have left Sandusky harbor not long before, and was headed east toward the locks around Niagara Falls, or just possibly toward Erie or Buffalo—since the Treaty of Richmond, I knew, we’d been importing agricultural products from the Lakeland Republic, though I’d never bothered to find out how they got to us.

I sat there and watched the ship as it swept past, wondering why they hadn’t done the obvious thing and entrusted their shipping to modern freighters instead. What kind of strange things had been going on here during the years when the Lakeland Republic was locked away behind closed borders?

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia Part 1 - Dawn Train from Pittsburgh 8/27/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia Part 3 - A Cab Ride in Toledo 9/9/15 
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia Part 4 - Public Utilities, Private Good 9/23/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia Part 5 - A Change of Habit 10/1/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia Part 6 - The scent og ink on paper 10/14/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Retrotopia Part 7 - A Question of Subsidies 10/21/15

.

Is Stock Market Too Big to Fail?

SUBHEAD: Who knows what will trigger Fed intervention? That information is for only the Fed insiders.

By Charles Hugh Smith on 1 September 2015 for Of Two Minds -
(http://charleshughsmith.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/is-stock-market-now-too-big-to-fail.html)


Image above: "Too Big to Fail" painting by Barbara Kruger, 2012. From (https://www.kensingtondesign.com/frieze-london-11-14-october-2012-book-tickets-avoid-disappointment/frieze-art-fair-512-barbara-kruger-too-big-to-fail-2012-spruth-magers-berlin-london/).

Correspondent Bart D. recently speculated that the U.S. stock market was now "too big to fail," that is, that it was too integral to the global financial system and economy to be allowed to fail, i.e. decline 40+% as in previous bubble bursts.

The U.S. stock market is integral to the global financial system in two ways.Now that investment banks, pension funds, insurers and multitudes of 401K retirement plans are dependent on current equity valuations, a crash would impair virtually the entire spectrum of finance from hedge funds to banks to insurers to pension plans.

A decimation of these sectors would impact the U.S. economy and thus the global economy very negatively.

By turning the health of the economy into a reflection of the stock market, the Status Quo has made the stock market into the one bellwether that matters. In effect, the stock market is now integral to the economy as a measure of sentiment and evidence that all is well with the economy as a whole.

The stock market is now the signal everyone follows: if stocks are rising, we're told that means the economy is healthy. Conversely, if stocks decline sharply, the implication is the economy is weak.

In other words, it's not just valuations that make stocks integral to the economy and Status Quo--the market's signaling is now the key to sentiment.In economist Michael Spence's work, the information available to participants is asymmetric: roughly speaking, those on the "inside" have better information than those on the "outside."

The stock market addresses this asymmetry by signaling what's really going on via price: if the market sells off, that tells even those with little other information that all is not well in the economy.

A rising market sends the opposite signal: everything's going well. If the participant isn't experiencing good times himself, he will still defer to this signal, reckoning that his own financial stagnation is an anomaly rather than the norm.

This explains why a rising stock market is now essential to the Status Quo: if the market reverses, everyone who sees mostly stagnation in their corner of the economy will realize that is the norm, not a local aberration.

If the stock market is now too big to fail, the Federal Reserve will have to prop it up whatever the cost. Ultimately, this may require direct purchases of stocks--an action that other central banks are already pursuing.

This shouldn't surprise us. After all, the Fed directly bought $1.5 trillion in mortgages (mortgage backed securities) to prop up the housing market, and a few trillion dollars in Treasury bonds to push interest rates down.

Just as a speculative guess, perhaps the line in the sand that will trigger Fed intervention is an extension of previous tops in the S&P 500: a line that is support that the Fed cannot let become resistance.

Just as a parlor game, let's note that this line around 1,620 is about 100 points below the 200-week moving average at 1,711, which is about 200 points below the current level of 1,914.

Who knows what will trigger Fed intervention; that information is asymmetric, i.e. only known to Fed insiders. Perhaps a break below 1,711 will cause the Fed to ready its financial blitzkrieg.

A drop to 1,620 or so would represent a 23+% decline from all-time highs--a decent correction by historical standards, but one that--if reversed in short order--would not necessarily trigger a financial meltdown.

That cannot be said of a drop that erased 50+% of the SPX's current value. If the market is indeed now too big to fail, the Fed will be forced to take unprecedented action if the decline hurtles past correction to carnage and full-blown meltdown.

.

Keeping lilikoi, cassava & macadamia

SUBHEAD: We have found a satisfactory way of freezing for long term the food of these productive plants.

By Juan Wilson on 1 September 2015 for Island Breath -
(http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2015/09/keeping-lilikoi-cassava-macadamia.html)


Image above: Lilikoi fruit cleaned and ready for cutting, with frozen and fresh juice at right. Photo by Juan Wilson.

One of the things food growers frequently face is too much of a good thing. In the American northeast that can be rhubarb, zucchini or pumpkin. Here in Hawaii it can be avacado, lichi or guava. - an over-abundance -  so much so you cannot even give the harvest away.

Over the years we have not found a solution for year-round avacado, lichi or guava, but we have developed a process for keeping lilikoi, cassava and macadamia in long term storage for year round use. It does require some processing and freezer storage.

Lilikoi Juice
The easiest of the three to prepare are lilikoi (or passionfruit). We have a few vines around the property that we have let grow up on a few non-food producing trees - a monkeypod and plumeria. The lilikoi on the plumeria is right off our side porch and we can watch the ripening fruit and occasionally hear a falling fruit hit the ground or the metal porch roof.

Everyday in season we walk along the ground in front of the porch and pick up six or eight yellow ripe passionfruit. As we gather them we strip off the dried petals left on the stem. We place the fruit on a platter in the shade of the porch where our chickens don't go. Chicken learn to like lilikoi juice too, and we let them get a few on the ground.

 After three or four days, when we have a couple of dozen lilikoi, we take them to the kitchen sink and rinse them off.

We use a serrated knife to cross cut them in half. We use a large spoon to scoop out the "guts" and place them is a strainer over a pot to separate the seeds from the juice. Some stirring helps. A couple of dozen lilikoi will yield about a cup of juice. We have bought several small freezer friendly seal-able containers and use them for storing the passionfruit. This gives passionfruit an almost unlimited shelf-life - as long as the freezer is working anyway.

We always keep a thawed cup of this juice in the refrigerator. We often use it to flavor cold drinks. We have a CO2 tank to carbonate water. We make carbonated drinks with fruits and vegetables. With carbonated lemon, lime drinks a few spoonfuls of lilikoi juice makes a very exotic flavor.

My wife, Linda, has also perfected a lilikoi icing for her gluten-free cake recipe.
“It's funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you watch them on a screen.” ― Anthony Burgess, A Clockwork Orange

I stumbled on the material for a cocktail with what was in the fridge one day - I named it "A Clockwork Orange" - largely due to its neon bright orange color. The recipe is 1) fill a Tom Collins glass with ice. 2) Fill the glass one quarter with vodka, one quarter with carrot juice, one quarter with club soda (or carbonated water) and top it off with lilikoi juice. Stir gently and sip.


Image above: A small cassava root reday for chunking. Most roots we harvest are 6" in diameter or more. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Mashed Cassava

Long term storage of something as awkward and bulky as cassava root is a problem. We have found a process for cassava (or yucca) that works for us. We have about a dozen cassava trees growing around the yard and nearby fields.

Our first efforts with cassava was to make chips. (see http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2012/09/cassava-chips-life-cycle.html). Early efforts were to fry them with some oil. Later we baked them with a lot less oil and a more uniform result. These chips are usually consumed quickly in a single session with guacamole or baba ganoush.  Even sealed in a bag the chips do not save well.

Another more useful way for us to use cassava is as a substitute for potato. Both as boiled or mashed as a side dish with meat, vegetables and salad.

We harvest the swollen upper roots from a cassava tree, leaving the smaller deeper roots alone. We prune the tree down by a third or so and save some thick short leafy branch section for planting in new locations.

We soak most of the clingy dirt off the roots in a five-gallon bucket and after scrub them gently with steel wool before skinning them. We trim tips and the branch stub completely off leaving only the white flesh of the root. We then use a large knife to cross-cut the root into large circular chunks.

We then pie cut the chunks into large potato-sized wedges. It is often necessary to pare off some woody central root sections. We put these potato-sized chunks into boiling water. After some time test the consistency with sharp paring knife. It yields through-and-through drain and cool. Place boiled cassava in one quart bags for freezing. We recommend dating the bags.

When thawed for use our favorite recipe is make mashed cassava much like your favorite way of making mashed potatoes. We heat the cassava in water, strain, mash and add plenty of garlic and butter.  The results are delicious and a bit stickier that potato.


Image above: "Dried" macadamia nuts ready for roasting in oven. Photo by Juan Wilson.

Roasted Macadamia Nuts 
We have one mature 30 year-old macadamia nut trees. In peak season (August and September) if drops a couple of dozen nuts a day that we can recover. Many we never find and many are eaten by rats at night. There have been days where we collected over one-hundred nuts. (see http://islandbreath.blogspot.com/2009/09/peak-macadamia-nut.html)

The first season we collected a burlap bag full. We hung the bag on a peg near our kitchen window. After a few weeks we noticed a macadamia nut on the floor. And as time went on we kept finding a few here and there. After a week we realized that there was a hole in the screen to the window. Rats had chewed through a part of the screen hidden by the bag and then chewed through the burlap to get the nuts. The bag was leaking our treasure. We tightened security.

We now peal and roast all our macadamia nuts in batches as they fall. We bag them in on pint freezing bags. Now we have have our own roasted macadamia nuts year-round. Here's our process.

We collect the nuts when the have fallen off the tree and are still in their green outer husk. We place them on a 30" diameter flat bamboo basket spread out so they are not piled on one another. The basket is placed on a table in the sun on our deck during the day and brought back to the covered porch at night to keep them dry.

It should be noted that we now have a cat who is an aggressive rat hunter who sleeps on and patrols our porch. The storage on the porch described above would not work otherwise. 

We keep the new green nuts on one side of the basket and the older brown (to black) nuts on the other side. The new nut husks turn brown and many begin to split. As they split more they turn to black.

Every few days we take about a hundred of the darkest husked nuts from old side and  put them in a bowl for husking. This is the toughest part of the job. The husks harden as they dry. We leave the husks on for three reasons. 1) we think the nuts age better with the husks on. 2) they are difficult to take off even green. 3) you can tell how old the nut is by the husk color.

I use a 10" Vise-Grip brand tool to remove the husk. I adjust it to about two-thirds of a nut diameter and grab the opposite and aligned with the split on the husk. This can often push the nut out of the husk in one motion. Often it take two swipes to free the nut.

Once they are husked I put them on a large platter in the shade. Then in the partially empty basket we roll nuts to the "dark-side" making room for green newbies.

The platter sits and gathers more nuts for about ten days. After that we start a new platter and start roasting the nuts in the old platter. We take about hundred 'aged" nuts at a time and put them in a colander for a quick rinse and inspection. any nuts with a perforation or weird color is tossed.

We but the remaining nuts is an oven pan at 240º for about three hours. There is a wide range of roasting that is possible. The color of the nuts can vary from a light tan to a creamy coffee color to brown, depending on your taste and use. Mostly we like medium well.

About one a week we thaw a bag of nuts and put the sealed bag in a bowl with some wrapped dark chocolates. Having to crack nuts and peel chocolate is a small price to pay for the ensuing bliss.

We highly recommend the mac nut cracker from TJs Nutcrackers from:
Gold Crown Macadamia Association
9582 Del Dios Highway Escondido CA 92029
call tollfree: (800) 344-6887
visit:  www.macnuts.org

.

Weaponized drones in America

SUBHEAD: North Dakota first state to approve drones with rubber bullets, tasers, pepper spray, tear gas, and sound cannons for domestic use.

By Robert Barsocchini on 29 August 2015 for Counter Currents -
(http://www.countercurrents.org/barsocchini290815.htm)


Image above: Rendered 3D model of a drone, called a Sentinel, from "The Matrix" movie series. From (http://www.turbosquid.com/3d-models/3d-sentinel-drone-matrix/731137).

North Dakota has become the first state to approve government use of drones equipped with “less than lethal weapons”, including “rubber bullets, pepper spray, tear gas, sound cannons, and Tasers”.
The bill passsed thanks to the inherent corruption of the US political system, as the wording was modified to allow for weaponized drones and approved “thanks to a last-minute push by a pro-police lobbyist” who is “tight with a booming drone industry”.

The Republican who originally proposed the bill had written it to ban all weaponization of drones, and he was dismayed that it was ultimately allowed to pass in a form that allowed non-lethal weaponization.

Police claim the drones will only be used in “non-criminal” situations, such as surveilance, but did not mention that they have already been used in at least one criminal situation, or that the claim is dubious at best given the ultra-militarized and brutal state of policing in the US, which many, particularly those in ethnic minority groups, liken to military occupation.

A police deputy, explaining why he opposed requiring search warrants for use of drones, told Daily Beast that “you don’t want things that would potentially have a chilling effect on [drone] manufacturers”.

“It’s really all about the commercial development,” said Republican rep. Gary Paur.
As Daily Beast puts it, “In other words, limit civil liberties so Big Drone can spread its wings.”
Of course, there is a bit more to it than that, as numerous US crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters, including mass arrests of civilians and journalists, demonstrate.

.

Fascism in Brazil

SUBHEAD: They will destroy the environmental conditions that the indigenous groups depend on to live.

By R. Bessi & S. Navarro on 30 August 2015 for Truthout -
(http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/32553-development-projects-intensify-violence-against-indigenous-people-in-brazil)

[IB Publisher's note: Sounds like Brazil is taking a lesson from American dealings with Native Americans and the Hawaiians in stripping the land of natural life. One definition of Fascism is an authoritarian government organized by the military and industry to exploit the resources of "other" people through intimidation and violence. Racism and violence simply come with the territory.]


Image above: The military police were constantly present, protecting the headquarters of Brazil's three branches of government from the indigenous protesters. Photo by Santiago Navarro. From original article.

In an effort to make way for new investment projects, the Brazilian government and transnational corporations have been taking over ancestral indigenous lands, triggering a rise in murders of indigenous people in Brazil.

According to the report, "Violence Against Indigenous People in Brazil," recently published by the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI by its Portuguese initials), the number of indigenous people killed in the country grew 42 percent from 2013 to 2014; 138 cases were officially registered. The majority of the murders were carried out by hit men hired by those with economic interests in the territories.

The states of Mato Grosso del Sur, Amazonas and Bahía figure heavily in the statistics. An emblematic case was the brutal killing of the indigenous woman Marinalva Kaiowá, in November of 2014. She lived in recovered territories, land that for over 40 years has been claimed by the Guaraní people as the land of their ancestors. Marinalva was assassinated - stabbed 35 times - two weeks after attending a protest with other indigenous leaders at the Federal Supreme Court in the Federal District of Brasilia. The group was protesting a court ruling that annulled the demarcation process in the indigenous territory of the Guyraroká.

In addition to this, there has been a steady flow of people forced to move to small territories after being displaced by economic development projects, as in the case of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where the majority of the population - over 40,000 people - live concentrated on small reservations. These are communities that are exposed to assassinations by hired hit men, lack education and basic necessities, and endure deplorable health conditions. Infant mortality rates in the community are high and rising: According to official statistics, last year 785 children between the ages of 0 and 5 died.

"We, the Guaraní, principally from Mato Grosso do Sul, have been the greatest victims of massacres and violence," the Guaraní Kaiowá indigenous leader Araqueraju told Truthout. "They have killed many of our leaders, they have spilled much blood because we are fighting for the respect for and demarcation of what is left of our territories that the government does not want to recognize."

The rise in the rate of violence is related in large part to the development policies of the Brazilian government - policies that have been denounced by the Indigenous Missionary Council. Another report, titled "Projects that impact indigenous lands," released by CIMI in 2014, revealed that at least 519 projects have impacted 437 ancestral territories, directly affecting 204 indigenous groups.

The energy sector has most deeply affected indigenous people; of the 519 documented projects, 267 are energy-related. In second place is infrastructure, with 196 projects. Mining is third, with 21 projects, and in fourth place, with 19 expansive projects, is agribusiness. Ecotourism comes next with 9 projects.

"In the Amazon region, the region of the Tapajos River, we are being fenced in," João Tapajó - a member of the Arimun indigenous group - told Truthout. "The Teles waterway is being constructed and the BR163 highway widened. This is being done to transport the transnational corporations' grain and minerals," added Tapajó, who is part of one of the groups that make up the Indigenous Movement of the region Bajo Tapajós, in the state of Pará.

"We live under constant threat from agribusinesses and lumber companies. There is a construction project to build five hydroelectric dams on the same river. To top it off, our region is suffering from a process of prospecting for the exploitation of minerals, by the companies Alcoa y Vale do Rio Doce."

Similarly, a report produced by the Federal Public Ministry, based on its own evaluations and carried out by anthropologists María Fernanda Paranhos and Deborah Stucchi, shows that the processes of social change generated by these projects principally affect those who live in rural contexts. This includes many groups living collectively who are relatively invisible in the sociopolitical context of Brazil.

"The evaluations provide evidence that the intense social changes, the possibility of the breaking up of productive circuits, the disappearance of small-scale agriculture, fishing, and forested areas, a reduction in jobs, and the impoverishment and degradation of material and immaterial conditions of life ... have led to strong reactions and an avalanche of social conflict," according to the ministry's report.

Hydroelectric Dams in the Brazilian Amazon

The government's Ten-Year Plan for energy expansion - 2023, which projects for the period of 2014 to 2023 an expansion of over 28,000 megawatts of energy generation by way of hydroelectric dams, claims that none of the 30 hydroelectric dams projected for construction in this country during this period will have any direct effect on indigenous lands.

Data from the Institute of Socioeconomic Studies, through an initiative called Investments and Rights in the Amazon, tells a different story. According to research carried out by Ricardo Verdum, a PhD in social anthropology and member of the Center for the Study of Indigenous Populations at the Federal University in the state of Santa Catarina, of the 23 hydroelectric dams that will be built in the Amazon, at least 16 will have negative social and environmental effects on indigenous territories.

They will destroy the environmental conditions that these indigenous groups depend on to live and maintain their way of life.

"The difference in results is due to the way the idea of 'impact' or 'interference' is defined conceptually and materially," Verdum told Truthout. "According to current legislation, interference in indigenous lands occurs when a parcel of land is directly affected by the dam itself or the reservoir. The territorial and environmental criteria do not consider the human and social aspects of the interference, or influence of the project on the population."

A Militaristic Approach to the Economy


Image above: The atmosphere grew tense as Federal Police came in to oust the Pataxo blocking the highway through their land,one of the richest areas in terms of flora and fauna in the world. Photo by Santiago Navarro. From original article.

Brazil's development model - a model adopted by most countries in Latin America within the old international division of labor - leads the country to specialize in the export of raw materials or basic products at a low cost in relation to the import of final products that return to Brazil at elevated prices.

This is a logic that is based on the colonial model, according to Clovis Brighenti, a professor of history at the Federal University of Latin American Integration. "It is an entry into the globalized world by way of intense exploitation of the environment with few results," Brighenti told Truthout.

"What's more, these results are in exchange for high investment costs, made with public resources and subsidized interest rates, concentrated in a tiny group of beneficiaries. It is a dried-up model but in its death throes, it causes irreversible damage to the environment and for the people that depend on these ecosystems."

The design of this development model, according to Brighenti, is connected to the modern myth that an economy needs to grow rapidly and continuously to satisfy the material necessities of society.

"However, behind this myth, is hidden the essence of the capitalist system: the need to guarantee a logic that is based on consumerism, and in this way, guarantee the accumulation and the benefit of the elites and the privileged sectors of society."

In Brazil, the belief is that material happiness is connected to the search for new spaces for development expansion. "In other words, it is searching for constant advancement into 'new' territories, where there is still a natural environment to be explored and appropriated," Brighenti said. "Thus, capital's interests revolve around indigenous and traditional territories, as ideal spaces for the execution of these projects."

He added that in Brazil there is a continuity of a militaristic mentality, due to the fact that the country was shaped by a military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. During that time, the United States was involved through a program called Operation Brother Sam.

The objective was to remove peasants and indigenous people from their lands to concentrate territories in the hands of businesses that currently produce soy, sugar cane and eucalyptus. These companies include Monsanto, ADM, Cargill, Bunge, Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and Ford.

In this sense, current governments did not inherit just the military structure but also a business platform that dominates production and the raw materials market.

"The principal similarity between the military government and what we are currently living is the development perspective, which means thinking about natural resources as infinite and readily available. In order to make a country grow economically, the amount of territory that is occupied for economic projects must increase," Brighenti said.

Another similarity is the relationship that they establish with communities. "It could be said that there is no dialogue," Brighenti said. "The government makes a decision and all that is left for the communities to do is to hand over their territories in the name of these initiatives.

Trying to keep indigenous communities quiet is a recurring action in the sense that these populations are seen as barriers to the establishment of these projects ... thus, the continuance of a militaristic mentality is explicit - proceed with development and stop the protests of those who are affected."

An essential point that sets the period of the dictatorship apart from progressive governments is the source of financing for the projects. "Today the works are financed with public resources, through the National Economic and Social Development Bank, which is the principal funder of these megaprojects, while under the military dictatorship they were financed by the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank," he said.

In 2013, the Brazilian government published an order that allowed the intervention of the Armed Forces in protests against development projects. That same year, the military police in southern Brazil killed an indigenous Terena man and wounded others in the fulfillment of an order to re-take the land that the Terena had reclaimed as part of their ancestral territories. This was disputed by Ricardo Bacha, a former congressman from the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, who said that the lands had belonged to his family since 1927.

Similarly, at the request of the ex-governor of Bahia, Jaques Wagner, who is the current defense minister of Brazil, President Dilma Rousseff signed in 2014 an authorization by the federal government to dispatch close to 500 military personnel to the Tupinambá territory, alleging that his objective was the "guarantee of law and order" and to "pacify" the region. To this very day, the Tupinambá region continues to be militarized.

Institutional Violence Against Indigenous Communities

The assassinations are just the tip of the iceberg. Among the constitutional amendments that are being debated in Brazil's Congress is PEC-215, which transfers the power to decide the demarcation of indigenous territories to the legislative branch, when it has historically been in the hands of the executive branch.

The amendment would leave indigenous people in the hands of Congress and the Senate, which are primarily made up of the family members of large businessmen and the owners of huge extensions of land.

"These proposed constitutional amendments favor a group of 264 parliamentarians of Brazil's Congress, who have received campaign financing from multinational corporations, such as Monsanto, Cargill, Bunge and Syngenta. PEC-215 favors the expansion of big agriculture, using the discourse of food production, but Brazil's food is produced by small-scale producers," Lindomar, of the Terena people, told Truthout.

The principal cause of the conflicts, according to the Indigenous Missionary Council, is the negation on the part of the Brazilian government to recognize and demarcate indigenous territories.

n 2014, of the almost 600 indigenous territories currently claimed by different groups, only two were recognized (Xeta Herarekã, in the state of Paraná, and Xakriabá, in the state of Minas Gerais) and one was approved (Paquicamba, in the state of Pará).

The current government of the Workers Party, led by Dilma Rousseff, is that which has demarcated the fewest indigenous lands since the end of the military dictatorship in Brazil.

In the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, the state with the highest rates of violence against indigenous people, communities live on the edges of highways, in precarious living conditions. The recognition of indigenous territories was outlined in an agreement that was signed in 2007 by the National Indigenous Foundation, a government agency, which later broke the agreement.

Even if the demarcation had gone into effect, indigenous people would only occupy 2 percent of the state, in one of the regions of Brazil where the largest number of indigenous people reside.

Resisting the Old Development Model


Image above: A Xucuru dancer in front of the National Congress in April 2015. The indigenous Xucuru people from the state of Pernambuco are from one of the best-organized groups in Brazil. Photo by Santiago Navarro. From original article.

According to Brighenti, since the start of the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) administration, indigenous people have expressed to the government that they wanted to share their knowledge and practices with the new administration.

"But the government ignored them, and what's worse, Lula declared that Brazil needed to overcome three great obstacles to development, including indigenous groups, environmental laws and the Federal Public Ministry," he said. "Thus, since the beginning, he made it clear that for the indigenous movement and its allies, the government had chosen a different model and aligned himself with other sectors that are unfortunately at odds with indigenous groups, big agro-industry."

Indigenous people realized that they needed to come together to avoid losing their rights. "Few social and union movements supported them. Each social movement defined its relationship with the government and indigenous people were many times criticized for their radicalness," Brighenti added.

Indigenous lands in Brazil, as recognized by the federal government, are property of the government. Indigenous people can possess and use the land, with the exception of the subsoil and water resources. "It is necessary to advance in the sense of constructing autonomous communities, which does not mean independence, but the freedom to decide their own future," Brighenti said.

Even with the demarcation of indigenous territories, there is no assurance against intervention in indigenous lands, since the law allows for the intervention of the federal government at any time because the lands are considered property of the government.

"All the government projects are threatening to us and the entire Amazon," María Leus, an indigenous Munduruku woman, told Truthout. "We do not accept any negotiation with the government, because we cannot make negotiations regarding our mother and because we do not accept any of these projects that are going to affect us.

We have always been here: These are the lands of our ancestors, and today we continuing fighting for the respect for our way of life, because governments have never respected how we live, and today they are devastating what is left of our lands in order to continue with their projects."

.